Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 3,073 | Reviews: 616 | Display Reviews Only:
4.14/5 rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
A - A thick, dark, opaque black beer which generates a dark tan head with an aggressive pour.
S - There is, not surprisingly, a strong alcohol note, with a big malty blast. Coffee and chocolate notes are secondary. The booze overwhelms here.
T - This is a big beer, delivering on the smell. Beneath a complex combination of malts, caramel, coffee and chocolate is a build of booziness that comes in big for the finish. Surprisingly, the brew is not particularly bitter, nor overwhelmingly sweet, even though every flavor here seems to be turned up to 11.
M - Heavy enough to coat, but with carbonation sufficient to keep it from getting cloying.
O - A drinkable brew that does not hide its 10%, but still manages to be quite drinkable. Suggests many of the qualities of a barrel aged imperial stout, which is a real trick since it was not. The alcohol does cloud somewhat the complexity below, so I cannot say it is the best imperial stout I've had, but it is a good one. A very good one.
Serving type: bottle
10-31-2013 04:15:41 | More by Tsar_Riga
4.45/5 rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5
Updated 10/29/13 after aging one of this same 2012 versions for 11 months. Served a little cooler than room temp from a tulip. The original scores for the fresh version are the ones I'll leave in place as the official scores. Here's the current review of the aged 2012 release then the original review of the fresh 2012 release below that:
A - 4.25 - Black with a nice darker khaki head that settles fairly quickly
S - 4.25 - Unmistakeable black malt char aroma alongside something almost perfumey that I've smelled elsewhere in the beer world, like maybe in a weizenbock or somewhere. A kind of clean smell. Unexpected and unremembered from last time.
T - 4.25 - The char from the nose translates directly onto the palate. As does whatever that perfumey note is. Different here, but you can tell they're related. Over time, the char seems to give way to the semisweet dark chocolate. Late in the glass it's more mellow and balanced in terms of char vs. choc. The aftertaste starts off as a nice char and you think that's all it will be but, but it quickly reveals notes of dark chocolate sweetness peeking out.
M - 4.5 - Nice heavier mouthfeel, yet not exactly viscous. It seems heavy at first when you pull it in, but then it settles somewhere south of there. Kind of neat.
O - 4.25 - That nice black malt char taste is basically what I want out of an imperial stout. This one delivers in spades. And it has a tasteful and classy undertone of dark chocolate. I don't know what that perfumey element is but it works as something to give this its own identity. There are three elements I was able to identify, but I think it is less complex than some imperials. As I look at my original review and scores from when I had it fresh, I don't think aging it 1 year really did anything worth waiting for. It changed, in some cases for minor improvement and in some for minor degradation and in others just different. Overall I say it's better fresh.
ORIGINAL REVIEW 11-27-12
A - 4.5 - Pours dark brown with some light around the edges but goes opaque black in the glass. Lovely thick textured tan head that endures for quite a while.
S - 4.0 - Mostly chocolate on the nose with a hint of char underneath. Possibly a leather note in there.
T - 4.5 - On the palate, the char and the chocolate switch places, with the char coming more forward, though overall it's fairly balanced. It just barely approaches chocolate sweetness. That appears more on your hard palate and lips after you swallow than in the main taste. A bitter char/bitter chocolate aftertaste lingers.
M - 5.0 - Wow. This is a top 5 mouthfeel, maybe top 3. I just googled the words luxurious and luxuriant and apparently neither is what I'm going for, but you get the intent. Wonderful. It's not pudding-like, as are some big imperials, which is something I like. It's closer to medium bodied than pudding bodied. Call it north of medium. But it's just so well done. I've never thought about mouthfeel being balanced, but that's what this is - balance between the silkiness of a thick pudding-like mouthfeel and the drinkability of a medium bodied beer.
O - 4.5 - Fantastic. Sierra Nevada just doesn't disappoint. I bet you could go through the gallery of beers that didn't make it out their door because they didn't measure up to their standards and find a bunch of great beers. Because the ones that make it out the door are just flat professional. These guys are master craftsmen. Their way is not the flashy way - it's the balanced, understated way, which delivers top quality humbly. Their touch is so deft and delicate.
Serving type: bottle
10-29-2013 20:36:15 | More by BrownNut
4.35/5 rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Pure black body, topped by a fist worth of dark tan micro-bubble foam.
Big roast coffee aroma, chocolate undercurrent, hints of dark fruit.
Taste starts off with a wave of Hershey syrup. Follows with a big cup of black coffee. Nips of dark fruits.
Big thick slick oily chewy. It's a good one.
A superior Imperial Stout I hope to enjoy again for years to come.
Serving type: bottle
10-28-2013 03:54:10 | More by RonfromJersey
4.3/5 rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Pours like engine oil into a snifter; jet black with a thin brown head that fades into a loose topping of foam after a few seconds.
Smells of dark roasted metallic malt; coffee and chocolate, both dark and sweet. Simple but foreboding smell, unassuming but unapologetic.
Taste is very big, and much more complex than the smell suggests. Dark coffee and chocolate blends with sweet chocolate and dark fruit, as well as a thick booziness that warms as you drink.
Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, awesome.
Overall, this is a solid RIS. Definitely one of the more extreme examples, but a great one for those who love huge stouts.
Serving type: bottle
10-28-2013 02:28:36 | More by BurgeoningBrewhead
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,073 ratings.